The Role of an Alcohol and Drug Evaluation in Successful Recoveries

alcohol and drug evaluation

If you’re dealing with an addiction, it probably impacts your life in so many ways. If you’ve decided to seek help for an addiction, you will need a substance abuse evaluation before starting treatment.

An alcohol and drug evaluation provides a way to understand the role addiction plays in your life and the right strategies for treatment. The goal of an assessment is to find an individualized path for you to move forward to long-lasting recovery.

Here’s a guide to why a drug evaluation is critical before starting rehab.

What Is a Substance Abuse Evaluation?

A substance abuse evaluation is essential for designing a personalized plan for those dealing with addiction. The evaluation is a key part of preparing to enter a treatment program.

Typically, the facility’s treatment team or an addiction specialist performs these evaluations. The assessment will look at the severity and extent of your alcohol or drug abuse, along with any co-occurring mental health issues you may have.

The first step to starting rehab is completing a substance abuse evaluation. The information from the assessment can be instrumental in getting you the right treatment for your addiction issues.

The goals of a substance use evaluation include:

  • Determining if you do have substance abuse issues
  • Determining the extent of your addiction
  • Addressing co-occurring mental health issues or other concerns
  • Determine and discuss how addiction has affected your life
  • Develop a personalized substance abuse treatment program
  • Determine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is appropriate

Substance abuse assessments typically include two parts: a screening and an assessment. The screening determines if the individual is living with an addiction. The assessment works toward a diagnosis, developing a treatment plan, and setting goals for recovery.

With a substance abuse evaluation, there’s a severity index that is used to evaluate the extent of the substance abuse disorder. The ASI severity ratings include seven key areas for assessing substance abuse and determining the best strategies for recovery.

A doctor, therapist, counselor, or social worker typically performs the assessment. It’s the best first step toward medical detox, treatment for an addiction, and the hope for a new, healthier life.

Questions Asked in a Substance Abuse Evaluation

The questions involved in a substance abuse assessment are strategic. The aim is to determine if you have an addiction and what type of treatment you will need.

Some questions will focus on your current situation and any substance abuse issues in the past.

Some topics you can expect include:

  • Your substance abuse history
  • The extent of your alcohol or drug use
  • How drugs or alcohol affect your behavior
  • Your health history
  • Your current health
  • Family history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Your mental health

Your honesty in a substance abuse assessment is essential for successful recovery. Although it’s normal to feel embarrassed about these types of questions, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Seeking help takes courage, and you are not alone in your struggles or your desire for a better life. Hiding the truth about your substance abuse will make it more difficult to receive a true diagnosis.

Be sure to tell the truth and hold nothing back for the best chance of long-term success.

How Do You Diagnose a Substance Use Disorder?

Diagnosing a substance use disorder involves an in-depth evaluation performed by a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or addiction specialist. Most specialists use 11 different criteria based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These criteria are based on decades of statistical research involving drug and alcohol use disorders.

In most cases, two or three consistent symptoms suggest mild substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms indicate severe substance use disorder. 

Substance use disorder occurs when drug or alcohol use impairs your daily life, causes health issues or disabilities, and prevents you from performing your work or personal responsibilities. To be diagnosed with substance use disorder, the assessment must show evidence of impaired control, risky use, social impairment, and pharmacological criteria.

What Type of Drug Screenings Are Used? 

There are a few different types of drug screening tools used in drug and alcohol assessments. These help to determine the types of substances the individual is using.

Urine Drug Screening

Urine tests are inexpensive. They are easy to perform, and the results are quick. Urine tests can detect alcohol, opiates, marijuana, cocaine, methadone, PCP, nicotine, and more.

Hair Drug Screening

Hair screenings can detect drug use from months prior (90 days), and the tests are very accurate. This type of screening is more expensive than urine tests, but the results are more reliable and extensive.

Hair tests can detect cocaine, marijuana, opioids, and more.

Saliva Drug Screening

Saliva tests are cheap to administer, but they aren’t as accurate as other screening methods. They can only detect certain drugs taken within a few hours of screening.

Blood Drug Screening

Blood tests are expensive but very thorough. They can detect drugs taken months prior to the screening.

Blood tests can be complicated to collect and are typically reserved for court-ordered drug and alcohol evaluations.

Factors That Influence Drug Use and Abuse

There are several factors that influence substance use and abuse. These include:

Genetics and Family History

If you have a history of family substance abuse, you may be at a higher risk for addiction. Addiction does run in families and the tendency toward addiction can be passed down from a parent to a child. 

The way you process alcohol and drugs also plays a role in whether you develop an addiction.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors for addiction include family life and the home environment. When someone grows up in an abusive or violent situation, they are at higher risk of addiction if they turn to these substances to cope with their feelings.

Other environmental factors include friends who have substance abuse issues. Having friends who use or experiment with drugs and alcohol can increase your chances of substance abuse.

Many teens begin the cycle of addiction during these impressionable years.

Mental Health Risk Factors

Mental illness has a major impact on the development of substance abuse disorder. People who struggle with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD are at higher risk for addiction.

In many cases, they use alcohol or drugs to cope with their symptoms, increasing the risk of developing an addiction.

When Does Recreational Drug Use Turn Into Addiction?

What begins as partying on the weekend can evolve into substance abuse before you realize it. This also depends on your personal risk factors and the frequency and volume of drug or alcohol use.

Many people begin drinking or using drugs as a way to relax in social settings. This may seem harmless but can escalate over time into risky behaviors, including accidents, crime, and the potential for overdose.

When a recreational habit becomes a daily habit, casual drug use becomes substance abuse. The more you use drugs or alcohol, the more you will crave them. 

Substance abuse is likely if you need alcohol or drugs to enjoy yourself, feel happy, calm your nerves, or be in control. Addiction doesn’t discriminate and can affect any gender, race, or age group.

Those who are at higher risk for addiction should be aware of the signs of dependency. These may include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Body shakes, trembling, and sweating
  • irritation or mood changes
  • Headaches and cramps

What Is Required for a Drug and Alcohol Assessment?

There are a few documents you need for a drug and alcohol assessment. The documents required vary depending on the location. Some documents you may need include:

  • A copy of the results of the DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RPR)
  • Copies of any arrest reports and criminal history
  • The DMV report of your driving history

How Long Does the Assessment Take?

The time it takes to conduct a drug and alcohol assessment depends on each individual situation. Typically, it takes one to two hours. It may take longer in some cases.

Your doctor may need to ask some additional questions to get a clear picture of your situation. That’s why it’s very important to be completely honest and provide as many details as necessary.

The assessment process may seem stressful at times. Remember, it’s providing insight into your substance abuse issues and the best strategies for helping you.

Taking the time to understand your substance abuse issues and the associated risks will bring you one step closer to starting the rehab process. The next best step is starting rehab, which focuses on individualized addiction treatment and support.

Understanding the Value of an Alcohol and Drug Evaluation

If you’re tired of the effects drugs or alcohol are having on your life, you’re taking the right step to seek treatment. To get the best addiction treatment for you, an alcohol and drug evaluation is necessary.

This can help identify your addiction and the proper treatment you need to achieve long-lasting sobriety. Although the first steps of recovery may seem daunting, your future health and happiness are worth the effort.

At Purpose Healing Center, we understand the struggle of addiction and the strength it takes to seek help. We’re here to help and offer individualized inpatient and outpatient treatment programs to put you on the path to a life free from addiction.

Contact Purpose Healing Center today to learn more.